I’m not really in shape. I’m totally unprepared. But hell, I have 3 months how hard can it be right? (/sarcasm) This time last year I’d signed up for the Surf City Half Marathon and was terrified of 13.1 miles. That was a LOOONG way from my couch.
This year I’m feeling the same thing only the distance just doubled and I’m staring down the cold ugly face of truth. I managed to bullshit my way through my first ever half marathon but people die attempting marathons. I’d really rather not be one of them.
Why am I pushing this when a smart person would just register for a June marathon and train properly?
Historically the LA marathon goes through some of the crappiest most boring parts of LA. The dreary roads of downtown and parts of the inner city (no not the super scary parts). But THIS year? The race starts at Dodger’s Stadium. You do a little loop and then haul ass for the beach. 26.2 miles through some of the coolest real estate on the planet.
I have read neither of these but I’m going to have to look for them because Hal won me over with the Hal Higdon training programs. There is advice on how to train for any distance (from 5K to the super hard core ultra marathoners).
And they’re FREE! (because we all know I love free)
My schedule? I’m doing a tweak of THIS one. I’ll post it when it’s finalized.
So I basically have 80 days to figure this out.
My biggest challenge?
The LA Marathon does not have a time limit however streets re-open to traffic at an approximately 13-minute per mile pace. At that time, participants still on the course will be required to move into the curb lane or on to the sidewalk and obey all traffic signals. I’d rather not fight traffic so I have to figure out how to get my slow-ass half marathon time down to 13 minute miles.
Oh and I also want to shake the hand of Bill Higgins from Fullerton, CA. Bill is in a class all by himself and that is just incredible.
I’m down almost 35 lbs and depending on whether I’m wearing a skirt or jeans, 2-3 sizes. It’s amazing the difference in my body. I don’t feel that different, but when I look at myself in my pretty underwear (because I can now wear pretty underwear) I think I’m almost hot. It’s true!
I stopped trying to run and just started walking. Alot. I was averaging 20-25 miles per week. Now it’s almost too cold for me to actually walk that much, so after almost a month off, I’m heading back to the gym and pulling out my Gillian Michaels’ 30 day shred video.
Just thinking about that makes me wince. She’s a beast!
So, it looks like we’re still getting some newbies here and there. How is everyone doing? I promise to get back and blog more. CK has done an amazing job supporting this blog single handedly pretty much since spring. Plus she’s a FREAKING HALF-MARATHON ROCK STAR! Holy Moly!
Now it’s time for you guys to catch me up on what’s been going on in your worlds…
Meet Tuesday’s route. I have never tried to run before as a human popsicle so that was a new one for me. It was in the low 50s last night and I was wearing spandex pants with a pair of regular running pants over them. Plus a long sleeve mock turtleneck. Plus the North Face fleece that helped me survive winters on the east coast. I looked like the Michelin man just rolling along. Shivering cold.
The route you see above? It took me an hour to manage it. I was basically doing a 16.5 minute mile which is pretty speedy considering…
You know how you know you’re a runner? When someone posts about the health of their sinuses and how that might affect their next race in a wall update on Facebook. (Names have been hidden to protect the innocent…on the off chance that one of these people is innocent).
*Note- I’ve never had a “pre-race fettucini alfredo” primarily because it would put me in a cream sauce coma and I always fear I’m going to get so excited I’m going to forget to stop when I hit plate.
So what would you do if you saw a status update like that? Let’s analyze some answers. One of these was posted by a male and one was posted by a female. I’ll let you guess which one is which.
I’d like to take a moment here and give a shout out to Facebook. Before the development of this technology I can safely say the good fortunes or misfortunes of someone else’s sinuses never really registered with me.
Still, in some ways this brings about a sense of community right? We’re all in this together. So what does contestant #2 have to add to this conversation?
So which one was posted by a male? Response #1 or Response #2?
And the race course? The one they originally described as
Changed considerably without notice. My previous blog map was the updated trail but reality looked like:
The race course was something like 13.3 according to my GPS watch. I forgot to mark my location at the finish line so 14.67 includes all post-race walking until I got to my car. That didn’t include the extra 2 miles I walked in the morning going from my car to the race, then back to my car and back to the race which would make it 16.67 miles overall.
All in all not a bad day. My feet are fine. My muscles are pleasantly sore but it’s not excruciating and I think I’m finally getting the hang of this race thing! Next step? Solve the shin splint problem!
For the first time ever I crossed the starting line as soon as the gun went off. This was important because it meant when I reached the finish line the clock time displayed would actually be pretty close to my actual time. That was definitely a nice side benefit for competing in a small race!
The problem with being so near the front was that I had to start at a run. Faster runners are towards the front, the very fastest are in the very front. I was frontish so it was important that I crossed at a good clip and kept going. For the most part that was okay, I’ve been doing a lot of running on treadmills and local park trails but it’s a bit different when you can feel a wave of people behind you trying to get past. At one point I really started feeling the pace and looked down at my watch. I was running a 9:30 mile. Advanced runners run 9:30s and there was no way I was keeping that up for very long. I moved as close to the side of the route as I could and started walking for a bit.
At that point I was feeling pretty good. I’d made a big dent in my first mile and was just about to start a second running interval when my foot slipped on a lane line. Yes, the lines they paint on asphalt to direct cars are incredibly slick in the rain. I recovered without injury but I frightened myself and my muscles tensed. The next time I tried running my shin splints flared up and bam, there went my fantasy of jogging a substantial portion the half marathon. Which was especially annoying because I was wearing compression sleeves for shin splints.
Right around the time I started feeling sorry for myself for having a setback so early in the race granny passed me with her walking sticks. The shock actually rendered me mute (miracle!) for a moment and I’m sorry to say she was ahead of me by the time I got it together and cheered her on. How cool that she was out doing a half marathon on Sunday morning! (And leaving me in the dust!)
If you look at the map everything in the white space after the first mile marker basically until you hit the blue resevoir area was a private airport. I’m assuming Pomona airfield but don’t quote me on that. The route went right past the flight tower and about 10 of us in a pack all simultanously waved at the air traffic control guy. A woman behind me said “This is probably the most variety that guy has had in his day all year.” We all laughed because she was probably right.
By the time I hit the second mile I realized one weird thing about the course. It had no spectators. I mean NONE. You could argue that rain would have discouraged even the most hard core race enthusiast but when you looked at the land you couldn’t tell it had just rained. There was none of the flooding I’d seen in my car. The earth just soaked it all up (which tells you how desperately we needed the water).
Every half mile or so for the first part of the race there was a cop parked in his cop car watching us from across the street. Didn’t honk. Didn’t clap. Didn’t wave. Just sat there and watched us. Every other race I’ve done the local support has at least cheered or smiled or something. Notsomuch in Pomona. Kind of a bummer.
What I didn’t know during that second mile was that I should be soaking up every second of the flat route. As a finisher of two coastline events it never even occured to me to ask what the elevation was for LA County. Oops. Hills galore! short ones, long ones, steep ones requiring signage, the whole enchilada.
Here is the route in pictures:
On the resevoir trail
That’s Raging Waters Water Park and this is the closest I’ve ever been to it.
As for the resevoir trail itself
Looks kind of flat right?
That was before
See the sign? I listened to it and was half way down that dirt trail (my first ever trail run) when a college guy from behind me shouted “Hey red shirt girl! That’s the wrong way!” He and his girlfriend became my race buddies. Had he not saved me from my horrible mistake I would have ended up at this boathouse about 2 miles round trip out of my way with no hope of returning to the race in time.
Thanks again B!
Plus I had company for what turned out to be a hilly course.
But I did learn one thing. Sometimes you’re okay with hills and slopes if you think they’re going to take you somewhere good.
By mile 7 I was all ready for that!
But the fat lady wasn’t done singing and the fat chick wasn’t even halfway done racing.
According to my GPS watch the total elevation change in feet for the race was +1,381 / -1,367.
Did I mention I live at sea level? I’m not used to this stuff!
Now this made me think two things:
1) Damn if only I’d known I would have been mentally prepared for it at least!
2) If only this race was in June because I really need a warm up for the San Francisco 1st half marathon!
Yes, most of my thoughts pertaining to racing are punctuated by exclamation points.
Other pictures include:
Notice how the road is empty of all other competitors. This would never happen in a race with 18,000 people. There are fields on the right and an airport on the left. This is somewhere around the 9 mile marker and it was a little creepy. I was grateful to have two race buddies with me.
I also had a glorious realization: NO BLISTERS SO FAR!
Huge. Yes that is HUGE!
And let me tell you that perked me right up! The rest of the course from 9 on felt like it went a bit faster.
From the middle of mile 10 on you were pretty much on Fairgrounds property again. Parts of the course were very well marked. Other parts not so much. I’d printed the map you see above before my race which is what allowed us to figure out where we supposed to go in several instances if you can believe it.
See the water drop before 12? We passed the water station and then it was like a ghost town. There were barricades in several different places and the path could have been in either of two directions. The map saved us.
Do you also see that loop above 12 that runs parallel to North White Ave? That segment of the race was through what basically amounted to the Fairgrounds backlot. There were a lot of food carts being stored. Full sized Union Pacific train engines (not sure why). There was also the:
And the final water stop?
I kept waiting to see Clifford the Big Red Dog racing for the fire hydrants.
If only I’d known that was a precursor for heading to the back 40. The last 2 miles of the race route took us through mini vegetable gardens and tiny apple orchards. We moved past an equestrian center (and smelled it) and then went right through the Pig Patio
I’m serious the sign on the back wall says Pig Patio!
It was an interesting glimpse at the county fairgrounds.
Believe it or not I didn’t get a picture of the finish line but I did manage to run to it. I’ve never done that in a race before because by then the blisters are so bad I won’t even consider it. This time I was just fine!
Oh and for those of you who read this far (I’m sorry).
But here your treat.
Dirty D turned out to be a speedy young woman running with her arm in a sling. She raced past me not long after granny. (I missed the pic of granny but I still had my phone out and managed to snap a pic of D)
Next year’s goal is to catch up with Dirty D and maybe beat granny!
I got passed by a woman using walking sticks and wearing an adult diaper.
No matter what else I type about this race, I just want you to know that in my mind the 2009 Inaugural Los Angeles County Half Marathon will stand out in my mind as the race where I got my a** handed to me by a walking granny.
I also have to pat myself on the back here. Once you’re smoked in a race by the diaper crowd whether they’re AARP members or little kids sprinting past you in a 5K (yes that happened to me too because the half marathon and the 5K started at the same time) it takes a lot of determination not to fake a ruptured spleen and leave a race course. I should probably thank Greg and Steph because I was definitely thinking about their Medal-covered Christmas tree when I decided to keep going!
That being said I also cheered for granny. She was in WAY better shape then I was!
So here is how the whole thing went down.
As I said in my last post the night before the race was miserable. I could hear torrential rain outside my window and was envisioning
Yes, they were closing the race course to cars (or at least one side of it) but pre-race paranoia has no bounds.
That night I slept fine and woke up when my alarm clock went off at 5am. It was still pouring rain. It was definitely one of those moments where you have to decide whether you take this as a sign from the universe or if you get all your stuff together and drive an hour in the dark to find out what the situation is at the race. Weather.com said that the rain in Pomona should let up around 7am and then resume at 10am. The race had a surprisingly late start, 8am. I knew there was no way in hell I was going to be off that course by 10am.
But I also knew one other thing:
I’d rather be out there and give it my best damn effort then know I was home sleeping when the rain went away and the course dried out.
Positive sign #1: It stopped raining where I was by the time I hit 7-11 for a morning banana so at least I wasn’t going to have to drive in pouring rain.
It did make me think though. My GPS watch told me it was 3/4 of a mile from general parking to the race start. Did I want to stick with general parking or pay the extra $3 for preferred parking near the race expo? Walking to the race would be fine. Walking back to my car with potential blisters, etc. would be excruciating.
I got to the race course and the woman generously let me pay $3 extra to upgrade my parking rather then force me to spend $12 for new parking. I thought this was a sign from the race gods until I found out the difference between preferred parking and general parking is exactly two rows. I didn’t get to park near the expo those were vendor spots. So $3 got me 2 rows closer then 3/4 of a mile. Doh! Fortunately it wasn’t raining at the race so I was too optimistic to worry about post-race challenges.
I parked and headed for the trunk of my car where I had put all my stuff. I had 2-3 changes of clothes in case it started raining. Several shirt options in case I decided I didn’t really want to wear what I put on that morning. Two pairs of shoes and a pair of slippers. TONS of: icy hot, body glide, vaseline, gatorade, energy gels, towels, trashbags and
I had a typical pre-race breakfast dry toast with a banana. Some people do bagels with peanut butter but that’s a bit much for me on a nervous stomach. I ate about 2 hours pre-race which is key for me. So far everything is a go.
Then I got to the race start and WOOT! Daylight!
DAYLIGHT! and what looked like imminent SUNLIGHT!
New problem. I had a hat on but I didn’t have sunblock or my sunglasses. I have fair skin and major sunburn issues so hours in the sun without sunblock is impossible for me.
Now my 3/4 trek from the car to the starting line is going to turn into another round trip pre-race. I was worried enough about time to jog it.
I grabbed what I needed, dumped cold weather gear I no longer needed (skull cap, gloves, jacket) and jogged back to the starting line.
I don’t know about you all but I like to people watch at races.
This lady drew my attention
That’s an interesting way to carry gels and much lighter then a fanny pack or even a SpiBelt. Unfortunately I’m not sure how it works with the CarbKiller klutz factor. I can see myself accidentally puncturing those little pouches with my watch or something and having to deal with exploded Gu everywhere. Ick.
And then there was this guy.
Notice how everyone else at the starting line was wearing considerably more clothing.
Next thing I knew it was time for the starter gun and other people faded into the background. On your marks, get set, GO!